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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Threat of amalgamation lifted from NAI

The long-mooted merging of the National Archives of Ireland with the National Library of Ireland is not going to happen. It's official. Common sense, not always to be relied upon when a cash-strapped government sets out on a money-saving reform review, has prevailed.

In a four-page outline of the reforms that will now be progressed for the 12 organisations funded by the Department for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, there is no mention that the proposal to merge the organisations (with others) was ever proposed. But the good cheer comes with this statement:

"The National Archives of Ireland to continue to operate, as currently, with a statutorily independent Director, within the ambit of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and with a reduced Advisory Council serving pro bono."

Just as criticism of the proposed merger was loud, so are the sighs of relief.

Steven Smyrl, Chairman of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) and Executive Liaison Officer of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO), said: "The threat of merger has been hanging over the NAI for years and it is indeed excellent news that this ill-conceived proposal is finally thrown out.

"It means that the state will continue to have direct control of the state's records – as it should! It was never going to be a wise move to distance that control, yet that is what would have happened if the planned merger had gone ahead. Now, at last, the NAI can start to operate again without the draining uncertainty of the last few years. And that is good news for all Irish genealogists."